Review Summary: "Kind of like a jigsaw puzzle consisting entirely of riffs"
Before Deeds of Flesh became hell bent on technicality and sci-fi hoo-ha, they were considered among the finest riff crafters in brutal death. Their new sound obviously has its merits, but very rarely do I find myself clamouring back to their latest two records when their back catalogue beckons. Deeds’ music has always been complex, but prior to Of What’s to Come
, it was also characteristically reserved. Each of their albums was a labyrinth featuring a multitude of riffs with very few distractions, and for that reason they could come across as either impenetrable or absorbing. Truthfully speaking, old Deeds were so unflinching in their approach and consistent in execution that any of their albums could have been nominated as their peak for one reason or another. However, it’s 1999s Path of The Weakening
that stands out as arguably the finest all-rounder in their discography.
If this album (or Deeds’ old sound in general, for that matter) could be summed up in a couple of words, they would be something like “no bullshi
t”. Path of The Weakening
is the musical equivalent of a half-hour bare-knuckle fist fight. There are no ostentatious sweeps, synths or even solos to ease the endeavour, your only consolation being a grand total of two brief samples to break up what would otherwise turn your brain into mush. From the blistering opening track through to the eerily slow closer, the listener is unfalteringly assaulted with tremolo riffs, brisk, precise drumming and infrequent Suffocation-esque breakdowns. Thankfully the production is just as uncompromised as the instrumentation. The overall sound (though not particularly dynamic) is nicely balanced, combining clarity and lower end without succumbing to plasticity. The sound engineering thus allows the instrumentation to be as unrelenting and brutal as it dare.
Because the ever-changing and relentless riff patterns allow for virtually zero relief, it’s very easy to let your mind wander and miss a lot of the intricacies. Much like any Deeds album, Path of The Weakening
requires stern attention, and for that reason may not be the most enjoyable album at first. Kind of like a jigsaw puzzle consisting entirely of riffs, everything begins to come together as you invest more time in it, and eventually the song progressions and motifs reveal themselves to complete a grand picture. The title-track is arguably the strongest, as it utilises carefully obscured repetition by virtue of subtle modifications to prior rhythms and concepts, the song feels unified without coming across as pedestrian. This approach towards writing permeates the whole album, but is best exemplified in the aforementioned track perhaps because its runtime allows for a fuller progression.
Though not every song is as easy to flesh out as the next, you would be hard pressed to describe any of them, even speaking in relative terms, as “poor”. Due to the complex web that supports the unabashed guitar work, Path of The Weakening
succeeds on both superficial and analytical levels, containing riff wizardry in abundance and song writing to match. If you’re a fan of riffs and subtle sophistication, then this album will more than sate your addiction.